HOCKEY FAN…even if you’re not a hockey fan, are you ready for tonight? Do you have a plan? Did you get out in front of it — because if you didn’t there’s still time. Get flowers, order takeout. Do what it takes to block off 8 hours of white knuckle couch riding — because the only thing better than a GAME SEVEN in the Stanley Cup playoffs is TWO GAME SEVENS IN THE STANLEY CUP PLAYOFFS.

Sports at their best. Drama at its finest. Take the oxygen out of the room pressure that ends with two sets of warriors putting down their swords and shaking hands at center ice. Two Game Sevens in the best playoff in all of sports.

We’ve got the war going down in the District with the CAPS and PENS all-in. And the Ducks and Oilers in Anaheim right after that. And two teams with all the wrong kind of Game 7 history are trying to shake that monkey off their back with the Caps and the Ducks back in that pressure cooker, only this time hoping to get out of it alive.

And that’s how I see this. Both the Caps and the Ducks surviving and advancing. Slaying those dragons — and making it to the Conference Finals, where Ottawa and Nashville await.

You know how I feel about the Caps. They took Pittsburgh’s best shot. They had a game at home, with Sid Crosby back on the ice and a chance to put a dagger in the President’s Trophy winner’s chest. And they missed — a five-goal flurry flipping that script and putting the Penguins on their back. It may have taken longer than it should have but the Caps are rolling now.

Look, I know the Penguins aren’t going to let go of the Cup without a fight… they’re way too proud. Way too tough. But they’re also outclassed. And blew a golden opportunity to finish when they got blown out of their own house. And they’re not going into Washington’s and doing them there.  Not when the Caps finally figured out Marc-Andre Fleury and not with them riding all that crazy mo.

Sure the puck takes funny bounces in Game 7. And anything can happen. But the Penguins should have finished the Caps the first two times they had the shot because they’re not going to tonight. Don’t hate me for the pick, Pittsburgh, hate your guys for not finishing it when they had the chance.

And no, I don’t care that the Caps have lost six of nine Game 7s in the Ovechkin era. Or, That Barry Trotz has never made it out of Round 2. I’ll say it again: THIS ISNT THE SAME CAPS TEAM WE HAVE SEEN IN THE PAST. . THEY ARENT THE CHOKING DOGS WHO CAN’T GET IT DONE. This is the team that puts the defending champs in the ground. And keeps rolling on just like I told you they would.


And for Anaheim vs. Edmonton. We know the Ducks have their own Game 7 history. FIVE GAME SEVEN LOSSES IN A ROW, including exits in each of the last four seasons. And when Edmonton is good, they are scorching. Like that beatdown they laid on the Ducks in Edmonton in Game 6, or the spurts they’ve hit the Ducks with in Anaheim. The Oilers are nice. Really nice. And there’s a ton to like about them. But that run ends tonight.

Because Ryan Getzlaf’s  not letting someone else stroll into his house, drink his beer, eat his grub and nap it out in his bed.

Because for as good as the kids from Edmonton have been, the Ducks captain is ready to go Mark Messier. 15 points in these playoffs, a team leading 8 goals, playing more than 24 minutes a night, so much confidence, so much toughness, and on the home ice, he’ll will this team to a win. No way he’s letting them lose.

Watching this series, you see that the future of the West is Edmonton. But not yet. Not tonight.

The Ducks are too talented. Too battle tested. Too much scar tissue and experience in Game 7s — too tough to keep losing those high-leverage, all-in games, games that the Oilers franchise hasn’t played in in over a decade. So while there are benefits to being young and carefree and naive, this one is different.

Now the Ducks need to survive the opening flurry. They can’t get into a hole, they’ve got to stay out of the penalty box, and John Gibson needs to play better — especially after getting torched by the Oilers and run less than 9 minutes into Game 6. But Gibson will. Just like the Caps, this Ducks team is different. Randy Carlyle’s won a Cup before. He knows what it takes. And while Edmonton might very well be building a monster, that day isn’t here yet. DUCKS win. Getzlaf gets it done.


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